Dishoom Bombay Cafe’, UK by Afroditi Krassa

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o accompany the cosmopolitan and creatively progressive culture of London, Afroditi Krassa designed a clear, fresh and unexpected environment that makes Dishoom shortlisted one of London’s Best Design Award 2010 by Time Out Magazine. Located in Covent Garden, Dishoom achieves the rebirth of the Irani cafes that were so integral to Bombay (currently Mumbai) in the early 20th century. Such achievement does not come easy, it takes trust, commitment and a collaborative relationship between designer and entrepreneur. The 2 year effort has now paid off as Dishoom is getting plenty of praise from whom it matters most, the people.

Inspired by the ‘Bombay cafes’ opened by Persian immigrants in what is now Mumbai, Dishoom is already a popular addition to St Martin’s Courtyard. Just a stones throw from Leicester Square, it’s sandwiched between Jamie’s Italian and Cantina Laredo and offers an all-day menu of Indian snacks. In an area dominated by faceless chains, Dishoom stands out as a seriously good-looking space. With its mix of dark wood, mirrors and monochrome floor tiles, it’s more Bombay brasserie than café and the color scheme is a muted blend of greys, browns and pale blue.

Designer Afroditi Krassa has injected plenty of personality with colorful Bollywood posters and low-hanging lighting but the main attraction is the busy open kitchen where smartly-attired chefs prepare roomali rotis to order. The attention to detail extends to the rather lovely toilets where there are quirky mirrors, incense and vintage medicine cabinets in each cubicle.

The shade of blue used on the walls is a close approximation of the color most often used in the Irani cafes, booth seats have been upholstered in grey-blue leather, and the floor has a classic black-and-white check, but there’s plenty of color in the retro Bombay portraiture and Sixties pop imagery, which adorns the walls. ‘We worked really hard on the artwork to get the look right,’ says Thakrar.

Many of the portraits are of Thakrar’s own extended family. It is details like this that elevate the scheme beyond that of a chain restaurant, and Thakrar’s singular vision combined with Krassa’s skill in interpreting it have seen Dishoom shortlisted in the category of best new design of Time Out magazine’s Eating & Drinking awards. ‘We are ecstatic, says Krassa. ‘For me, Dishoom is a prime example of how design can be an integral part of the operation rather than an add-on.’ ‘We were exhaustively collaborative in our process, down to every last detail,’ adds Thakrar. ‘Not everyone will notice that the clock is an almost perfect replica of the clock in Bombay’s Victoria Terminus, or that the blue on the walls is the one you find in most of the Irani cafes, but details like this are worth the effort.’

Source : Afroditi Krassa,

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